There have been some genius ideas posted lately for both children’s learning at home, as well as ideas for incorporating more physical activity into our day. By incorporating the two, we are encouraging and enforcing learning, and keeping healthy and active. How can we mesh learning and physical activity for children? Perhaps it happens more than we realise, in many natural, play based ways.
Read on for simple, natural ways to bring on and encourage movement in learning.
Take a break from Tables and Chairs
A chair and worktop that’s the proper fit for a child puts them in the optimal writing position. However, don’t be afraid to take writing or drawing to the floor or onto your feet. We utilise different muscles to write and draw when we sit on the floor, lie on our bellies, or stand at a table. Many children often find focus and concentration comes naturally when their body is flexing or moving in an active way while they work. Try it out! White boards, etch-a-sketch, or good old paper and pencil will do the trick.
Small pocket notebooks or diaries
An excellent way to bring writing and drawing wherever their little bodies bring them, this simple tool encourages children to document the things they see or thoughts that pass through their mind. If you have a quiet road to walk, children can draw or write of the plants or animals they find. Or a child might take a break to sit in a quiet corner to jot down a few ideas. Let your child take the lead. Their tool is small and mobile, let them take it where they please.
Many children treasure these notebooks and some may wish to keep them to themselves. Their writings or pictures may seem small or insignificant to adult eyes, but they are huge to your children! Exercising writing and drawing based on a child’s own interests is not only utilyzing that developing pencil / pincer grip, but it excourages creativity, exploring and thinking, develops interests and encourages reflection. Let children take ahold of this project and their learning.
Helping out around the house naturally gets the body moving. Any adult knows this is all too true. Children are far more capable then we give them credit, and they find a lot of the cleaning tasks that adults view as mundane, as fun! Make it a game! Dump out the odd sock basket and see who pairs the most socks! Or teach skills like vacuuming, sweeping, or mopping. The cleaning materials in preschool are always a hot item as children sweep, mop, wipe and polish. Bring this ability into your home. Ask children to empty the dishwasher. Even young children can do this; give them the cutlery basket and watch them exercise their sorting skills as they place the cutlery in the correct places. On a nice day get outdoors and help vacuum or wash the car.
While children are home 24 hours a day during the coronavirus pandemic, there’s no better time to work a bit of housework into their daily routine. If it’s kept fun and positive, hopefully we’ll start to see kiddos taking their jobs (big or small) on board, and taking pride in their work. Life skills!
Get those hands Moving, Manipulating, and Shaping their Gross and Fine Motor Skills
Clay, play dough, sand, water, or any sensory materials provide opportunities for movement, creativity, and learning skills for children.
Using our hands to mold and manipule clay for instance, is exercising our fine motor skills needed for a life of writing and creating. Soft play dough, sand and water is great for all ages, while harder materials and clay is a good challenge for school age kiddos.
Add tools to sensory activities like sand or water. Measuring jugs encourage movement, mathematical concepts, pouring and transferring. Push household items like bottle tops, string, or natural materials into clay.
Make it a game!
Games can be as simple or complex as we make them. “Head, shoulders, knees and toes” gets children moving while enforcing parts of the body, and practicing coordination. It’s simple and fun and there are countless songs and dances that reinforce movement and concepts. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel.
Create your own game of twister by taping colours to the floor. Watch as your children twist, move and stretch while enforcing their recognition of colours. Start with primary colours. Extend to secondary and tertiary colours as your child learns and grows.
Turn lessons into active games. Exploring the alphabet? Create alphabet baskets or mark squares on the floor with tape. Ask children to run and find items for the “a” basket… “On your marks, get set, GO!” Running, racing, laughter and learning are the name of the game here.
Mathematic possibilities are endless. Have the kids been sitting for a while? Announce a fun break, name it, make it your own! Ask children to run and collect a number of items. “Collect eight soft toys, on your marks, get set, GO!” or exercise memory AND movement, “collect 3 teddies, 2 books, and 4 shoes, READY, STEADY, GO!” As children learn to count they’re often very proud of this ability (and rightly so)! Whether it be counting to 5, 10 or 100, ask them to collect that quantity of something!!! Stones, lego, blocks, or their choice. Lay them out, visually group them in twos, fives, tens, or all in one row. Count them. Hop, jump or dance as you count. Movement enforces learning, so enjoy it!
Anything can become a game and as you can see, they can be varied in complexity to suit all ages.
Play, Play, and PLAY some MORE
Play is the name of the game! If you sit and watch children play you gain a real picture of movement, learning, and imagination!
Children learn and make sense of the world we live in through PLAY! Active play experiences that children know and love bring not only MOVEMENT but also reinforce learning naturally. Let children choose their own toys or experiences. We don’t have to play WITH children all the time, but sometimes children look to us for company and support in play. Ask them how you can join their play and take their lead.
Getting the “I’m boooorrred!”? Here’s a few ideas that may spark their interests.
- Dress up: Children exercise their imagination in a Big way as they dress up and pretend play. AND dressing and self help skills help children gain independence. (Bonus 👍) Dress up clothes don’t need to be expensive Halloween masterpieces. Clothes in a child’s own wardrobe, or even something from Mom or Dad’s can be used for lots of fun and laughter. (an old purse, hat, tie or bag)
- Make a fort: the kids made a Fort yesterday. I sat back and watched and was amazed by the amount of movement, problem solving, and coordination necessary to make their masterpiece. And I really enjoyed a cup of coffee, while it was still hot 😁.
- Matchbox cars: make a track on the floor. Use tape, electrical tape is really handy. Children can have hours of fun running and racing cars around their tracks. Bring lego or blocks into the mix to create a village around their roads and tracks.
- Animal and dinosaur figures: create a habitat for them and play! Add natural materials or bring them outdoors.
- Dolls and stuffed toys: dress, change, bath, feed, and bring babies for walks.
Let children play and adapt their own experiences.
Enjoy and be well! Our outdoor experiences may be limited due to social distancing and isolation, but children are resilient and we can learn a lot about moving, learning, and playing from our kiddos.
What movement, learning and play has worked for you at home?